So, you are thinking about travelling down to the Midlands Meander? Great idea. Let us help you plan the perfect weekend getaway, so you can get away from the big city life and enjoy a slice of country living.
Considering you really deserve a break, we have even done most of the planning for you!
The Midlands Meander is a collection of sight-seeing routes winding through the Natal Midlands in South Africa. You will get the opportunity to drive through the most beautiful farmlands, majestic misty mountains, and the most delightful pine forests we have ever seen.
There is so much to do and see, we couldn’t possibly fit everything into our trip, but we definitely tried.
This is what we suggest doing…
Stay At Hartford House
Hartford House is a slice of heaven amidst the wide, rolling farmlands. It is a world-class stud farm and luxury hotel that boasts the most divine restaurant, which serves both four and six-course meals. It’s high class while remaining homely and incredibly friendly. While there, you should definitely go on a bicycle ride through the farm, it’s stunning!
➳ Read more about our stay at Hartford House
Visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site
Visit the capture site of South Africa’s beloved Madiba. On this very site, on the 5th of August 1962, Nelson Mandela was captured by police and sentenced to 27 years in prison. This moment was the first step on his long walk to freedom and, eventually, becoming our president.
The site has this amazing artwork that up close just appears to look like a few steel poles, but when you stand at the right angle, they form a picture of Madiba himself.
They have also just opened up a visitors centre, where you can see a replica of the Austin Westminster that Mandela was driving when captured, as well as some more information and history about apartheid and the province’s contribution to the freedom of all South Africans.
Eat at the Piggly Wiggly Coffee Shop
We visited Piggly Wiggly Country Village one morning for breakfast. It was so scrumptious. We also absolutely love that they try and minimise their environmental footprint to assist in the climate crisis!
Let’s talk about the food… The food we had was really good and they had some very cool menu options! Doesn’t a salted caramel pancake sound divine? Or what about some Vietnamese coffee? No, a buddha bowl…?
Something else we found ridiculously cute, was that your furry friends are more than welcome to join you, they even get their own menu section and complimentary water! Does your pup want a Poochaccino?
These next few options all happen to be at the same Piggly Wiggly country village.
Go To Chocolate Heaven
Have a chocolate fondue. Byron is a huge fan of chocolate, so whenever we travel, chocolate is always an important part of the journey. Chocolate Heaven has so many different ready-made chocolates to try, as well as their famous chocolate fondue (that we had to have).
You get to choose your own dipping ingredients according to weight, like marshmallows, strawberries, assorted nuts, sweets, fudge, Oreos, you name it and then you choose between milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate for the actual fondue. You even get to freeze your leftover chocolate in moulds to take home with you!
Make Your Own Candle
At the Piggly Wiggly Country Village, you can also do candle dipping. We think this is a really fun activity for the whole family or a just cute date idea.
You are able to choose from a whole range of different shapes and sizes. From boring normal candles (like I chose) to candles shaped like a skull, a Christmas tree, car, unicorn and whatever else the season brings.
You then get the opportunity to dip your candle in your choice of three different colours. Once dipped, it’s time to paint!
This is a great opportunity to get creative and maybe competitive. Whoever makes the best candle wins and is treated to an ice-cream. Just an idea.
The Art Bar At Zulu Lulu
A similar vibe and creative outlet as the candle dipping is the art bar at Zulu Lulu. Not only is it a fun name and a beautiful gallery where you can source fine art for your home, but it is also a ceramic boutique.
You can choose blank ceramic or canvas designs and paint them as you desire. Bringing your own creativity into your home.
The Barn Owl Coffee Shop
The Barn Owl has got to be one of my favourite coffee shops, if not my favourite coffee shop to date!
Even better, we happened to arrive there accidentally.
We had Googled a different coffee shop and when we finally made our way there it was closed! Luckily, while on our way there, I had spotted a South African flag flying beside the road and a sign that said The Barn Owl.
The whole atmosphere was just so inviting and homely. The decor had me engrossed, while Byron was captured by the beautiful view of the farm outside (as well as the trampoline).
We sat down, had an awesome meal and some delicious coffee all while staring outdoors. What was extra special for us was seeing a little hummingbird come and dance about the flowers in front of us! Magical!
Picnic At Karkfloof Falls
This is a must if you love waterfalls! Entrance is free and when we visited, we had the place entirely to ourselves. We didn’t actually see this beauty mentioned on any of the other Midlands Meander guides we have read; it should be!
There are picnic and braai areas, viewing decks, hiking trails and even the drive there through the forest is so beautiful. We highly recommend visiting.
The Mandatory Howick Falls Stop Off
Howick Falls is a stunning 95m high waterfall that has a great legend attached to it…
Local legend says that a giant serpent creature lives at the bottom of the falls and only a sangoma may approach it, but only to pray and offer worship to the beast.
Something else we find fascinating is that they have a record of all the people who have fallen over the edge – the earliest being recorded in 1851.
(⚠ We have also heard that it is not as safe anymore. So we advise that you be careful and vigilant, but do encourage people to visit, it is still a stunning waterfall.)
The Farmer’s Daughter
For some reason, every establishment in Howick seems to close very early in the evening, we were only able to sneak into The Farmer’s Daughter for some lovely coffee and cake. We suggest you come here after your trip to Karkloof Falls.
They sport some interesting and quirky decor inside; with stunning views from the upper level and outside seating.
It seems like a lovely place to spend some time eating, chatting away or reading a good book.
Peruse Ardmore Ceramic Art Gallery
Ardmore is a very high-class, luxury boutique/gallery, that has reached international acclaim. You will find some of the most interesting pieces here! Ardmore definitely has a unique and distinctive look to it. We paid a visit purely because we kept seeing items scattered around different hotels in the Midlands Meander that we heard originated from here.
The gallery is also a little museum, where you can learn the history of Ardmore and some of their more famous pieces. What we loved the most was that each artist receives his/her due credit (and you can even see them creating new art right there!)
Craft Shopping At The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling has a massive collection of odd bits and bobs to decorate your house with. From furniture to antiques, to funny decorative items you’ll battle to find anywhere else.
We bought ourselves a handful of incense, an incense holder, bamboo straws and were very interested in all the travel related antiques they had. They had world globes, old compasses, binoculars – the perfect collectors items for a travel inspired room.
Visit An Old Wine Cellar And Purchase A Book For Charity
Across from The Ugly Duckling is a cute little wine cellar called… Wait for it… The Wine Cellar!
They have the best selection of wine in the Midlands Meadner, some bottles from their expansive selection dating back a good few years. It’s like walking through an old, family-owned wine cellar with a small deli. In fact, that’s actually what it is!
Just off to the side is a charity book shop aimed at supporting the SPCA. So we recommend purchasing a bottle of wine, a platter from the deli, and a book; and then sitting back on a comfy chair in the book shop reading by the fire on a cold and misty day.
We hope that you enjoyed our guide! Please let us know if you choose to do any of these activities above and let us know your experience! We’d love to chat.
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Did You Know?
The Midlands Meander is a collection of amazing adventures, unique restaurants, exquisite accommodation and creative crafters that have come together to creative and extensive sightseeing route in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The intention behind the Midlands Meander is to bring awareness to the beauty of our country and the people in it!
It also makes the perfect partner to a road trip through the Drakensberg. So if you are looking for the ultimate South African road trip or short escape, the Midlands Meander and Drakensberg might just be what you’re looking for. Before you get too far in your planning, be sure to read:
➳ 13 Reasons Why You Need To Take Road Trip Through The Drakensberg
If you’re already rearing to go, then perhaps we can interest you in the complete itinerary. All routes, directions and attractions, in a fun package. That’s right, a video! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and then enjoy the Drakensberg and Midlands Meander Travel Guide!
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